Bucknor’s strike four; or, immune umps versus vulnerable players, continued

C.B. Bucknor, Jayson Werth

C.B. Bucknor (far left, next to Nationals manager Dusty Baker) can’t be held accountable for his malfeasance, but Jayson Werth (far right) could have faced a fine or suspension if he’d criticised Bucknor by name after strike four Tuesday night.

Try for a moment to imagine you could be reprimanded or prosecuted for criticising a Supreme Court justice, for whatever reason you saw fit. Of course that’s absurd, because you can’t be reprimanded or prosecuted for criticising a justice. Or a judge, so long as you don’t do it in open court.

So who looks how so far?

Two weeks doesn’t equal a season, and what’s looking top of the line now could end up looking middle of the pack or worse by the time the stretch drive arrives. Still, you can’t help noticing a few things, in no particular order:

WRINGING BULLS—The Mets’ bullpen was under a heavy burden before that sixteen-inning marathon against the Marlins to open a four-game set. Then both teams emptied the pens and benches and the Mets came away with the win. The Mets pen was gassed the rest of the weekend, costing Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey despite their solid enough pitching. That’s why Jeurys Familia will be welcomed back with Roman candles later this week.

The Mets bomb in Philadelphia—the right way

Hitting his third bomb of the night---"I think I was seeing the ball well," he said, in the understatement of the night.

Hitting his third bomb of the night—”I think I was seeing the ball well,” he said, in the understatement of the night.

Perhaps if the Mets knew Yoenis Cespedes would hit three home runs the day after, the might ask someone to take one for the team every day. For results like a 14-4 blowout of the Phillies Tuesday, you might find any number of Mets willing to take a pitch upside the head the night before.

Flag night a banner night for Rizzo and the Cubs

Rizzo led the celebration parade with the World Series trophy aloft after a rain-delayed opening Monday night . . .

Rizzo led the celebration parade with the World Series trophy aloft after a rain-delayed opening Monday night . . .

It figured. Really. Who else but the Cubs could come home from a season-opening road trip, prepared to hoist their World Series championship flag, and have it delayed by rain?

This rain delay lasted a lot longer than the one during which Jason Heyward pulled his mates to the clubhouse for the pep talk that led to the Cubs breaking the Game Seven tie and holding on to win game, set, and Series five months ago.

The Mets, from one head down to all heads high

Cabrera (center) is none to thrilled after Ramos bent him with a first pitch over his head; catcher Rupp (29) prepares to keep peace . . .

Cabrera (center) is none to thrilled after Ramos bent him with a first pitch over his head; catcher Rupp (29) prepares to keep peace . . .

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Edubray Ramos was auditioning for the Texas Rangers to shore up their bullpen. Based on his work in the eighth inning Monday against the Mets, the Phillies righthander seems a good fit for a team sometimes renowned for waiting till next year  and the last minute to settle a grudge.

The Angels overthrow their own burial

Cliff Pennington, heretofore not known for swinging big to end games that look like blowouts in the making . . .

Cliff Pennington, heretofore not known for swinging big to end games that look like blowouts in the making . . .

It’s not every season, never mind every day, when you open the bottom of the ninth in an apparent blowout, your designated hitter leads off by pulling to within eight of 600 career launches, he returns later in the inning to tie it up with a single, and the next man up hits one to the back of the yard to win it.

Roy Sievers, RIP: Sentimental journeys

Roy Sievers (right) with Mickey Mantle.

Roy Sievers (right) with Mickey Mantle.

Roy Sievers modeled his batting stroke on that of Joe Medwick, his baseball hero growing up in St. Louis. He made a respectable career as a slugging first baseman and a smooth swinger who studied the game and didn’t let the seedier sides of it soil his shyly genial nature.

Sievers, the first to win an American League Rookie of the Year award when it became an each-league prize (in 1949), died 3 April at 90. He’d overcome early career shoulder miseries to convert from the outfield to first base at the impetus of Bill Veeck, who owned the St. Louis Browns with whom Sievers first arose.

Birthday boy subjected to immediate use, misuse, and abuse

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

It’s bad enough if and when a young pitcher gets the call to the Show, gets the start under whatever circumstances, and gets slapped around. It’s almost worse if you’re a veteran who hasn’t seen major league action in almost two years and you got a call up to take a spot start.

Jeremy Guthrie would never kid you that he’s been one of the greats of his time. But he might have told you he was serviceable enough to pitch in all or parts of twelve major league seasons prior to Saturday.

They know nussing—nussing!

Molina and the Cardinals have no idea (wink) how that ball got stuck to his chest protector Thursday.

Molina and the Cardinals have no idea (wink) how that ball got stuck to his chest protector Thursday.

It looked innocent as the Bad News Bears Thursday afternoon. Brett Cecil, the Cardinals relief pitcher, threw a fastball to Cubs pinch hitter Matt Szczur opening the top of the seventh that hit the dirt and disappeared, allowing Szczur to reach first despite the stickout–er, strikeout.

Except that the ball didn’t disappear. It bounced into catcher Yadier Molina’s chest protector. And stayed there. Cecil had to shout, “Chest! Chest!” before Molina realised where the ball was. And the amusing mishap, over which even the Cubs had to laugh, proved to be the moment that turned toward the Cubs a game the Cardinals led 4-2 at the time.

Is Derek Jeter fishing for the Marlins?

Jeter, here hitting the home run that became his 3,000th major league hit, has ideas about becoming a baseball owner . . .

Jeter, here hitting the home run that became his 3,000th major league hit, has ideas about becoming a baseball owner . . .

Three decades ago, when Boys of Summer author Roger Kahn bought the minor league Utica Blue Sox, one of the first people he told was “my cherished Brooklyn Dodgers friend” Carl Furillo. “You? An owner?” Furillo replied in amazement. “You’ll be lucky if you don’t have two ulcers by Opening Day.”

Kahn sold the team after a year. But he was (and is) a writer. Players turning owners is almost as rare. The latest possibility may be Derek Jeter, who’s reported to be interested in becoming a major player in any push to buy the Miami Marlins.